The most important events of the Qatar World Cup 2022 final
One team is from South America. Another Europe. The game takes place in the Middle East.
Soccer -- a sport, a sport -- continues to grow in America, but the rules and customs remain foreign to many of its millions of spectators. Many had just tuned in to Fox's pre-NFL game on Sunday morning, only to discover that this experiment in human conditions had been thoroughly carried out on the football field.
Prior knowledge or appreciation doesn't matter, face the drama, emotion, brilliance and pressure that transcends all appeals to all.
When Gonzalo Montiel, a 25-year-old from the suburbs of Buenos Aires, scored Argentina's fourth penalty to win the World Cup for his country, people wondered about that perfect sport. Moments filled with appreciation.
For his part, Montiel could hardly celebrate. He just tore off his shirt and started crying.
These are the stakes. This is undeniable.
Globally, they estimate that around 700 million people will watch the World Cup final, and while there are no figures yet, the US must have contributed 10 to 20 million or more, despite the 10am start time.
That's partly because you don't need to know if Mbappe is a person or a place to be consumed. It's sport at its best, a back-and-forth heavyweight fight where you excel in every way and then go all out to win.
Argentina won 4-2 on penalties and broke a grueling 3-3 draw, converting all four of their attempts quietly in arguably the most painful way to end such a game. It took Argentina through one, but two epic French comebacks, and a historic hat-trick for star Kylian Mbappe.
That's what people want. spectacle. save. This conflicting behavior sometimes feels like watching a car crash. Twice Argentina stood on the brink of glory, only to have their hearts nearly pop out of their chests. In the stands, fans cried after scoring and conceding goals.
It's the kind of affair that keeps cardiologists busy, beautiful games at their best, both simplistic and terribly complex.
Lionel Messi, 35, is coming to the end of his illustrious career, scoring two goals and adding one with his second assist or assist in hockey. His second goal came in the 108th minute as part of a superhuman effort to beat the Argentine with ease.
But he was overtaken by the 23-year-old Mbappe, who scored an 80th-minute penalty as France trailed 2-0 and turned the game around with a brilliant finish 96 seconds later.
Then, shortly after Messi scored in the second half of extra time, Mbappe added another in the 118th minute to force a penalty shootout. Once there, both men are converted, a final reminder of their class.
Along the way, Argentina's Emiliano Martinez and France's Hugo Lloris made daring saves, not to mention the defenders' efforts to block and sweep the pitch.
Many of the millions of people watching in the US aren't really interested. Of course, many people do.
Over the decades, the sport's popularity among its core fans has grown exponentially. Messi, in particular, is particularly popular here, but so is his club team-mate Kylian Mbappe at Paris Saint-Germain.
They don't need to know the backstory, however, or the trajectory of their careers, or the historic national horror that ensues.
They just know it exists.
To have the opportunity to see the best player in the world at something, to play at that level, to try at that level, to give it your all - physically, emotionally, mentally - is more than enough.
From living room sofas to bar stools, scream, scream and smile for football in a rare way.
Especially for a non-US team.
For two-and-a-half hours on Sunday, football took the country by storm like never before. His jaws tightened as his audience grew. This has no meaning for the future. This isn't an announcement that World Games is about to become America's Game.
Construction continues, but this is just a moment and one that should be appreciated; a glorious, if unexpected, moment.
The best performances from Argentina and France on Sunday gave the U.S. a glimpse of the sport at its best.
You can celebrate with the Argentine, you can mourn with the French, you can pay tribute to the pinnacle of Messi's career and enjoy the greatness of Mbappe's generation. You can scream with excitement and fear.
That's movement. That's life.